The Parachute

Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings On Mondays my team and I meet for a group Bible study and to kick off our weeks on the same page. Right now we’re studying Rebekah Lyons’s great Freefall to Fly. We were going around the room sharing our insight on the last week’s reading, and I think I shocked everyone when I shared about my two experiences skydiving. Really! I’ve willingly jumped out of a plane – TWICE! In my late 20s I decided I wanted to skydive, so I asked my dad, a former Navy pilot, if we would join me in my jump. He shot me down, replying that he would never jump out of a perfectly working airplane. Instead, I gathered a group of my friends and braved the day. We spent the majority of our day training and had to take a test before we were allowed to ascend to our final goal. At 3:00 p.m. we loaded into the plane and started soaring. I was the third of our group to jump and terrified as I crawled out of the plane and scaled along the side of the aircraft to reach the jump-off point. Words can’t describe the exhilaration of floating through the air once I took that step away from the safety of the plane’s interior. After our first jump, three of my four friends wanted to go back for a second jump, including me. That time, I led the group and was the first to leap, landing without incident. My second friend to jump lost radio signal inside her helmet and drifted away from the jump path. The last jumper’s parachute didn’t open, and he had to rely on his reserve shoot to insure his safety. Medics raced to both, and ultimately they arrived on the ground safely but not without fear and reluctance to ever jump again. Even though my jumps were solo rather than tandem, I wasn’t ever alone. We all wore helmets that were wired to keep us connected to an expert who instructed us to pull right or left, to stay on a course that would guarantee the safest landing and signaled us when it was time to land. Navigating the landscape of our lives is like that. For those of us who believe in Jesus, we’re jumping solo but are never directionless. We are hardwired to have a connection with our pilot who guides us clearly, firmly and safely. As I stood gripping the metal exterior of the plane, I could see a wide expanse of ground below me, but I couldn’t see the actual spot where I was directed to land, yet I trusted what I’d been told and took a literal leap of faith into a freefall with that voice in my head. I didn’t need to fear what was next. No matter what I encountered, I had the assurance that I would be okay. Without being tuned into the pilot’s voice, like my poor friend, I would drift away and out of the path assigned for me. In life, when I lose or ignore the Lord’s signals, I often find myself in places I never intended to go . When my jump was nearing an end, the ground seemed to be rushing toward me, and just at the moment I began to panic, that calm voice commanded me to pull the parachute, and I landed gently. A faith walk with the Lord doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter turbulence, fear, or a loss of altitude, but it does mean that He is directing your freefall and will catch you as you land. Disclaimer from the Anne Neilson team: We cannot encourage you to jump out of a properly working airplane, but Anne assures us it was fun.